Interview with Renault Robinson

All right, now, everything is going down, forces are taking shape. Lu Palmer is doing his community political education classes. He conducts the plebiscite. Lead me up to that from your point of view with respect to your relationship to Harold and how Harold ultimately got there that night for that plebiscite.


Harold was totally against the plebiscite. He was absolutely against the issue of choosing a candidate before the Black community had mobilized, had understood what was at stake and had demonstrated their capacity and their willingness to do what was necessary to win the election. He had been through an election already. He knew what that was all about. It was always those few people with, go with a Black no matter who he was. And, but the majority of us were not ready to make that step. People believed in their vote and they wasn't going to throw it away. And a lot of people believed the voting process was irrelevant and weren't going to participate. If we didn't convince those two groups, we didn't have a chance. And so Harold knew that personality wasn't going to do that, it had to be issue oriented, so the people themselves felt they had something to gain by their own act. They had been involved with Black politicians and that had not given them anything because the Black politicians were all puppets to the Whites. So, they weren't about to follow some Black politician like a pied piper. And Harold knew that, and I knew it. And so, the issue of a plebiscite turned him off. This was being done though because people wanted to identify a leader. They felt it was necessary. Many people felt it was necessary. "Who is it going to be?" they said. "We got to have a, a, a, some sort of community reaction to people who are out there." But Harold was totally against it and I must admit I was too. What happened though was that the thing caught on. The plebiscite the day it occurred, ah, Harold had let everybody know he wasn't going to show and he wasn't going to participate. They wanted Harold to participate because at that time he was very popular as a congressional candidate running for re-election. People felt that, ah, Harold had to be there because he was the prime guy to be the candidate. The others were just show. And with Harold not attending it was going to be a flop. The organizer, Lu Palmer was very upset that Harold was not going to attend, and said he would give a very negative speech if he didn't. In the end we had spotters in the, in the place and we felt that because of the crowd, because of the, the inertia that Harold had to come. It took a lot of doing to get Harold to show up there and only after a prearrangement between myself and Lu that Harold would not be forced to declare his candidacy, did Harold finally agree to show, and, with great reluctance he came and made one helluva speech, absolutely electrifying speech**. Turned everybody on in the place, they were stomping and screaming and yelling and right afterwards he walked right out because he was still very angry with Lu because he felt Lu was Blackjacking him, forcing him into a corner he didn't want to be in. And I felt, quite frankly, that it was a mistake because we needed to first get people to act on their own out of self interest before we directed attention to an individual.


Let's stop down here. OK. How are we doing?